Back to square one

Last week, many thought that the OCTA Research Group was exaggerating when it claimed that based on the trend of COVID-19 cases, by end of March, we will be seeing 10,000 to 11,000 new cases daily as per their modelling.

However, in the last three days alone, our figures were above the 7,000 mark, and yesterday we breached 8,000. If this trend continues, the government is aware that health services will reach a critical level again and could be far worse than what was experienced last year.

Here at home, we have been seeing a rise albeit very low compared to what we are seeing in Metro Manila and neighboring cities that have been placed on community lockdown.

However, I am suspecting that what we have on record here is not the real picture because we have not been testing as some LGUs in Luzon are doing.

We presently have 232 active cases in the province of which 157 are LSIs, 26 are APORs and five OFWs. These cases were captured because of the voluntary testing and quarantine offered by the province to its residents upon arrival at the airport and seaports.

But I am not so sure about Bacolod City that has reported far less numbers of new cases. And this makes me more anxious because I am pretty sure, many of the LSIs that flew home in the last couple of weeks, are from Bacolod.

That has always been my point of contention when the national IATF announced a couple of weeks back to lift the mandatory testing for travellers upon their arrivals under the ease of travel program. Because our figures are pointing to the fact that despite the required negative RT-PCR results for travellers, a number of them still turn out positive after testing here.

Gov. Bong Lacson was right to ask for a moratorium on travel for at least two weeks, knowing the great risk of allowing entry of people that come from Metro Manila and Cebu where cases have been spiking.

Of course, unless there is pressure from many LGUs, I doubt that the request will be granted because Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas who sent a similar appeal last week was already denied.

This issue to halt travel has once again divided the public and there have been critical comments against the governor for even mulling the idea of a moratorium. Understandably, these lashing are coming from those who are again inconvenienced and have spent so much to secure a return trip home and their relatives. Some criticisms are coming from non-believers who continue to ignorantly think that they are invincible to COVID.

And while you want to please everybody especially since it is election season again, Gov. Bong had to think of the greater population and ensure that the gains they’ve made in containing the spread of the virus will not go to waste.

Because while vaccination has started, very few have been inoculated and until these people have received their second dose, they are still not in a safe place to contract and perish due to the virus. Three health frontliners were reportedly infected recently but I am not sure whether these three have been vaccinated.

Which brings me to another point of disgust upon reading the news that the national IATF approved the request of Bacolod Mayor Bing Leonardia in his capacity as head of the League of Cities to reclassify mayors as among the priority for vaccination.

Mayor Bing rationalized that the mayors are also frontliners since the nature of their position and the actual work that some of them do, exposes them to possible infection and he took pride in the fact that his request was acted upon in so short a time when he personally requested DILG Usec. Epimaco Densing visited the city several days ago.

I certainly agree that some mayors do go out of their comfort zone to be in the frontlines. But the Health Department has already rolled out the logic of who comes first and the basis of which are also applied in other countries.

Priority is the health workers who are putting their lives and that of their families at risk because of their exposure. Does the mayor do that? Has he visited the sick or even gone around the high-risk communities like our barangay health workers?

Geez! It makes me want to puke that our general wants to save himself first ahead of the pack. It is elementary and that is a traditional protocol adhered to by our captains of ships and planes. In times of emergencies and crisis, they are bound to ensure the safety of everyone first before they save themselves.

I saw a social media post showing Escalante Mayor Biboy Yap getting inoculated and where he was quoted as saying because of low volunteers for available vaccines, he opted to go first as advocacy to allay fears among the public.

I agree. Sometimes, the public needs to be educated and the best tool is to make yourself an example. If that was probably the premise of the LCP to argue the point of mass vaccination then I concur. But to even claim that they are in league with the risk our health workers go through and thus should be on the same priority list is downright disgusting.

Gov. Bong has been advocating for mass vaccination via media interviews and even offered himself as an example. But because there are guidelines and as a senior citizen, he qualifies in the second tier of the priority list, then he waits.

In short, there is a basis for the priority list. And I don’t think being in a position of power deserves a higher priority. Mayor Bing could have done us more good if he supported the call of other LCEs like Treñas to impose a moratorium for the safety of the greater public.*

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